2012: avoid the haters

It’s much easier to be hateful in 140 characters than it is to be constructive. And evidence on Twitter seems to support this.

Whenever someone puts a foot wrong, people are baying for their blood. Ashton Kutcher was a recent victim of this, many of his 9 million followers reacting hatefully to his tweet slamming the firing of Joe Paterno. He clearly didn’t have the context, and withdrew the tweet moments later.

Twitter gives people a medium on which they can readily slam people they don’t know, generally those in the public eye—celebrities and politicians. It allows this to be done in an unregulated way, allows libel and defamation of character, and unless it becomes sufficiently high profile (it rarely does given the limited audience of those tweeting the abuse), doesn’t really provide a workable mechanism for the abused to answer back.

I assume that the laws around defamation of character and libel are as relevant and enforceable on Twitter as they are for other media. But the opening up of the publishing medium to millions of people makes it next to useless. Nobodies will abuse and the Twitter river will continue to flow, with that drop of acid flowing largely unnoticed into the sea of history.

Sometimes criticism is constructive, and I value that. (After all, if all you do is mouth off about Jan Moir without any reasoned argument, you’re no better than Jan herself.)

But in 2012, I’ll be making efforts to avoid those that hate for the sake of hating. Because as well as being destructive to those targeted, such negativity can only be destructive to the reader. Negativity wears off. Let 2012 be the year of inspiration.


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